ILAE took a joint decision to sponsor Dr Tarun Dua as a professional within the WHO to assist with the ILAE/IBE/WHO Global Campaign Against Epilepsy Out of the Shadows (GCAE) in relation to the planning, implementation and management of activities and projects of the GCAE according to the plan of action as defined and approved by the World Health Organization and the Joint Executive Committee of the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy.
Tarun Dua is a Medical Officer working on the Programme for Neurological Diseases and Neuroscience, Management of Mental and Brain Disorders in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO in Geneva.
IE News has invited Dr Dua to talk about her background, her involvement with the WHO and her hopes for the future of the Global Campaign.
My name is Tarun Dua and I was born in India in 1968. I grew up in a relatively small city very near to New Delhi, the capital of India. I am married to a paediatrician who works as a Medical Officer in the World Health Organization. We have one son, Shikhar, who is now 11 years old.
Although I have been involved in the ILAE/IBE/WHO Global Campaign Against Epilepsy since January 2004, I have never had the opportunity to formally introduce myself to the members of IBE and ILAE and I am very happy that I am now offered the opportunity to do so through the International Epilepsy News.
I qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1991 and then went on to specialize in paediatrics. Following my training, I worked until 1998 as a senior resident at a childrens hospital in New Delhi providing care to children from neighbouring urban slums. I then moved to the premier institute of India to train in Paediatric Neurology. I worked as a senior lecturer for two years before I moved to Geneva.
In 2003, our family moved to Geneva as my husband took a new job at the World Health Organization. When our family had settled into our new home and my son was happy at his new school, I enrolled for a Masters Degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene of Tropical Medicine and Public Health through distance learning, which I finished in the following two years.
While studying for my Masters degree, I decided to find some work in the area of public health and neurology. I approached the WHO and offered to do some voluntary work for them. That is when I met with Dr Leonid Prilipko and soon after with Hanneke de Boer. I started working on the Neurology Atlas as a volunteer in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO. It was clear, however, right from the start that, on completion of this job, I would continue working for the WHO in the development, publication and dissemination of the Atlas on Country Resources for Epilepsy. As most people will know, that Atlas was published in 2005, as a result of a very close collaboration between Dr Leonid Prilipko, Ms Hanneke de Boer and myself.
Soon afterwards Dr Prilipko retired and I was then offered a short-term appointment at the WHO to work on the preparation of the document Neurological disorders: public health challenges in collaboration with WHO Regional and Country Offices, professional experts and ten international NGOs working in the field of neurological disorders, which included ILAE and IBE. The document was completed in early 2007 and launched in February in the European Parliament in Brussels.
I am currently the technical focal point responsible for all activities concerning neurology within the organization. One of the major areas of work for which I am responsible is the ILAE/IBE/WHO Global Campaign Against Epilepsy Out of the Shadows. Epilepsy is a priority for the Department, as the Global Campaign serves as an example of what can be done if people work together for one common goal. Within the campaign I work closely with Giuliano Avanzini and Philip Lee; together we form the Campaign Secretariat.
The campaign is the product of the collaboration of many people around the world and has been a priority for the WHO since 1999 and will also continue to be so for the coming period. The Global Campaign Against Epilepsy, this partnership between ILAE, IBE and the WHO, based on our mutual efforts to help improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy world wide, will therefore continue to try to achieve its goals by initiating and implementing demonstration projects on decreasing the treatment gap, but also in other areas such as legislation and stigma.
In WHO’s view, the campaigns future strategy should be based on expanding and scaling up epilepsy care services, especially in low and lower middle income countries.
I became interested in epilepsy through my professional work. It is a hopeful and, at the same time, terrible thought that epilepsy can be treated effectively and relatively cheaply, but that this treatment is not available yet for millions of people. We need to work hard to try and change this situation for the better.
The activities that Dr Dua will undertake on behalf of IBE, ILAE and the WHO to assist with the implementation of future GCAE projects include:
- To provide a point of liaison between ILAE and IBE and the WHO and to advocate for the GCAE within WHO
- To provide expert advice on the formulation and implementation of the GCAE worldwide.
- In collaboration with IBE and ILAE to coordinate the development of projects aiming to reduce the treatment gap of epilepsy in selected countries.
- To assist in the development and updating of a plan of action for the GCAE
- To assist in the development of documents and materials related to the improvement of the control of epilepsy.
- To assist in the development of national programmes on epilepsy
- To assist in developing budgets for Campaign activities and their management.
- To submit regular reports to the IBE and ILAE Executive Committees
- To stimulate involvement of the WHO Regional Mental Health Advisors in the GCAE.